NEWSPAPER REPORT FINDS DOCTORS RARELY FACE PENALTIES FOR MISTAKES

When someone suffers serious injuries due to the mistakes of a doctor or medical professional here in New York, it can be difficult to know where to turn. In the aftermath of doctor's errors, medication oversights, surgical mistakes or misdiagnoses, victims usually just want answers. They want their doctors--those they entrusted with their care--to explain what happened and to apologize. Unfortunately, this rarely happens.

Those who suffer injuries at the hands of a doctor or in the care of a hospital often have to file medical malpractice lawsuits just to find out the truth about what went wrong. Medical malpractice lawsuits are also a way to obtain compensation for related medical expenses and pain and suffering, as well as to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions. This latter piece is very important because numerous studies have shown that doctors and medical professionals are rarely held responsible for errors.

A recent newspaper report in Wisconsin revealed that more than half of the doctors in that state who were disciplined for making a serious medical mistake between 2010 and 2012 received nothing more than a reprimand; in at least 50 cases in which doctors received no additional punishment, patients died or were injured as a result of the mistake.

The state's medical examining board has stated that one reason for this is the fact that a reprimand is significant because it is public information and calls attention to the error.

It is true that in many states medical professionals rarely have to accept responsibility for their mistakes. In many instances here in New York, medical mistakes go unreported, which is unfortunate for many reasons. For one, it is important to keep track of mistakes in order to learn from them and avoid making them again. Those who have suffered due to medical malpractice do have a right to answers and compensation. Those who are in such a situation may be wise to seek medical malpractice legal counsel.

Source: Associated Press, "Report: Wisconsin doctors often escape punishment for errors," Jan. 27, 2013

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